An update some “forgotten” projects

I get teased sometimes by friends for my inability to finish anything I’ve started, so in order to respond to my detractors, I thought I would share what has happened to some projects that haven’t been seen in quite some time. Let’s take a look at the Island of Misfit Hobby Projects… Continue reading

“Warfare in the Age of Reason, 2nd Ed” not-quite-review

I’m working my way slowly through the rulebook Warfare in the Age of Reason (or AOR) for short.  When I began looking at rulesets to use for the Seven Years War, this one seemed the most ubiquitous, and I was able to pick up a copy cheap on eBay.

Of course, by this point, I have begun seeing lots of critical reviews of AOR by people favoring other rulesets, most often Koenig Krieg, or more frequently Batailles de l’Ancien Régime, which seems to be the favorite of many who have commented here.  The criticisms of AOR aren’t always clear, but it seems to follow the lines of issues with basing, typos in the rules, and failing to capture the true feel of what warfare in that era was like.

Having little idea what it is supposed to feel like, I can’t comment on the last issue.  Basing issues I can understand.  The rules call for three 25 to 28mm miniatures on a 1.5″ by 1″ base, which is only slightly larger than a single 25mm base for WHFB.  I notice that SYW historical minis lack the wide cast-on base that some other miniatures lines have, probably for this reason, but I worry about tipping a base over, especially a command one (as a side note, I’m considering upon what I would base miniatures, having concluded that taskboard may be too flimsy).

I haven’t found the typos yet, although I’m sure I can procure a list from the AOR Yahoo group.  I’m also not really sure how the game plays, although I’m vexed by the fact that unit ratings get used mathematically several different ways, including a target number to roll under and the number of dice rolled hoping to roll high.  That’s really no problem, though.

BAR appears to be more flexible, insisting not on miniatures basing but on movement trays.  It also favors larger numbers of miniatures to create the illusion of greater battles.  On the downside, BAR isn’t really available on the secondhand or PDF market, so it would be a $35 (plus postage) investment in a second rulebook.  I have this sneaky suspicion that I’ve picked up the most popular but not necessarily the best option.

The Only Book on the Seven Years War at my Public Library

I was excited at even the notion of a novel set during this time period being purchased by my library.  So I rushed down, snatched it up quickly, and started reading it at my office.  The book?

 Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon.

I didn’t know what I was getting into, but by page 14 he’s already into a relationship with his second lieutenant.  Somehow, I don’t think this is going to be informing my wargaming all that much either.  Sigh.

Missed opportunities, and looking ahead

Last weekend I decided to wave off the “Warhammer Warband” tournament on Saturday because I already had two hobby-related events on the calendar–an RPG session Friday and my regularly scheduled WHFB 3000 pt. battle Sunday, and instead spend some time with the family. Unfortunately, my wife got sick Sunday, scrubbing my Sunday plans completely (this, after wasting three hours at a church-related event where no one showed up). So of the three possibilities, I got one in, which is not as bad as a kick in the head, I guess. I’ll go next Sunday and once again kick orc backside with my dwarfs (or hope beyond hope, one of the other opponents).

Speaking of WHFB campaigns, I’ve been kicking around in my head (and probably should put on the 24-hour section) the notion of doing something different with the 2008-2009 campaign. The current campaign, The Reaver Princes, will continue for another seven or eight months, well into the summer of 2008. Since management of the campaigns tends to alternate back and forth between me and Vince, I’m beginning to wonder what I’ll do when this one dies down. Here’s my idea:

One of the classics of wargaming campaigns is Tony Bath’s Hyboria campaign. For those who don’t know, Bath was one of the early organizers of the UK wargaming community, including the creation of organizations, magazines, conventions, etc. along with Donald Featherstone. Both men did “pseudo-historical” campaigns, Bath’s in the biblical era, and Featherstone’s in the SYW range. I don’t think that the impact of those choices can be underestimated: Bath is credited with doing the first fantasy wargame, and Featherstone laid the groundwork for all the SYW “ImagiNations” out there.

Anyways, Bath did some nice write-ups for Hyboria, including rules for territories, etc. WHFB has territory rules I like in the General’s Compendium, or I could easily use those, or the ones in Mighty Empires. Here’s what I thinking about for doing something different. Bath’s armies are essentially all variants on a theme, namely biblical-era armies: low-armor infantry and cavalry, chariots, elephants, etc. I was thinking about seeing if the group would be interested in limiting themselves to a single army book, say Empire or Bretonnia, or (gasp!) making the switch to Warhammer Ancient Battles instead (where I could use Shield Wars to recreate Hyboria, if I wanted). If I used Empire, I could re-enact the Empire in Flames era, or do some sort of War of the Roses with Bretonnia.

This would put a stronger emphasis on generalship and less on the strengths/weaknesses of the army books (especially the old vs. the new). It might be a inconvenience for those players who lack the appropriate miniatures, however, but I’m thinking that between Vince’s large collection and my own, we might be able to field two armies on the table if need be. Failing that, I’ve got eight months to work that out.

The other thing it would do is facilitate games with more than two players on a side, even unequal numbers of players.  One big problem with WHFB and these big games is how to negotiate the magic phase.  Can one player’s dispel dice be used by a player on the same side?  What if it was to dispel a spell that either affected the opponents team (some sort of “beef up” spell) or one that could overlap (like “Foot of Gork”)?  Having the same army allows players to just play sections of a bigger army list (battalions, etc.) while WAB removes magic altogether.  Okay, off to the 24 Hour section with you!

The Descent (set) continues

As the current storyline in my Castles & Crusades RPG draws to a close, I’m already laying the foundation for the next story arc, and it is a doozy.  But it also will involve some heavy dungeon-crawling, since that seems to be the stuff my group likes the most.  So I got back in the casting mode and started work again on my Descent set, finishing to more 4″ by 6″ rooms and the last T-hallway piece.  Here’s a pic of what I’ve done so far.

The Decent set as of 10/6

And here’s a close-up of the latest two rooms.

Descent close-up

I’m only down to a handful of rooms and some odd hallways pieces, then I’ll get this guy painted.

Seven Years War: the first book review

I finished Frederick the Great by Louis L. Snyder.  This book is part of a series called “Great Lives Observed” which includes such figures as Henry Ford, Jesus, Booker T. Washington, Hitler, and Joe McCarthy (which would make one really great poker game, in my mind).  The book is basically a collection of primary source material, sorted by type, each with a small introduction.  The real “gem,” according to the author, is the discovery of a letter by Frederick’s physician addressing the rumors regarding Frederick’s homosexuality.  This four-page missive instead reveals that Frederick’s lack of interest was more fueled by other, disease-related problems, instead.

Frederick the Great

TMI, Fritz, TMI…

The author’s fascination with gonorrhea aside, the book is actually quite good at capturing the qualities of Frederick, both as a ruler, general, and person.  There’s Frederick’s own perspective on the world, religion, philosophy, etc. and equal time given to what various figures were saying about him at the time.

It is a nice primer to the time period, and a fair biography, but woefully lacking in actual military history that could be used to inform a fledgling wargamer like myself.  Hopefully the Duffy book will be in soon, and I might have to make a journey into the “Big City” and see what I can find there.

Seven Years War: beginning with books (okay, book)

So, I’m wanting to learn more about the Seven Years War, or at least more than I can glean on Wikipedia. My first place to go is the public library, but I do so knowing that I’m in for disappointment. Let me explain. My local public library’s history section is a complete travesty, especially if the history book isn’t about Ohio, World War II, or Iraq. French and Indian War? There’s a junior high textbook on the shelves, but that’s it. Seven Years War? Not a blessed thing. Or rather, no book dedicated to this conflict (although I did find one on the Thirty Years War, and the War of the Roses). Forget the fact that the library is trying to raise nine million dollars to renovate a new facility because they don’t have enough space; I guess if I was researching the works of Janet Oke or wargaming the Left Behind series, I’d be set.

Seven Years War for Dummies

A likely book available at my public library.

And forget about interlibrary loans. TMP has recommended Christopher Duffy as the guy for books on the period, but of all the works by Christopher Duffy, the only one available is “Military Experience in the Age of Reason.” I’ve actually read part of that one before, but I’ll revisit it again. I also thought I’d put in a request for some of the fundamental Osprey books on the topic, but that was a total wash as well.

So I left by initial expedition having gained only a copy of a biography of Frederick the Great written in 1971 by Louis Snyder, and putting in a request for the Duffy book. I’ve also gone ahead and purchased a rulebook already, but I’ll talk more about that after it comes in.